You wouldn’t think it, but most BSS children look forward to going to school each day. Priyanka, who has been a student at BSS since 2006 and is now 14 yrs old and studying in class 5, is no exception.
In 2013 Priyanka had to drop-out of school for two years because her mother was pregnant and Priyanka was required to work as a maid, earning money for the family. Priyanka’s mother and father now have three sons and being the only girl in a poor Indian family, Priyanka is inundated by many responsibilities.
“She is an intelligent girl,” Rajan said, “and when she was able, Priyanka enrolled again in BSS in hopes of fulfilling her dream to become a nurse. Priyanka and her mother were put under significant pressure from her community to ensure she got married,” Ragan added. “Their community created this very bad situation and Priyanka became increasingly depressed. It was intolerable,” Rajan said.
“One day, while Priyanka was at home doing her homework, one of her neighbours barged in and tore her homework into small pieces to try and dissuade Priyanka from continuing with her education. The pressure continued and Priyanka’s depression became worse, making her sick with bad headaches.”
“One night at about 10 pm, while we were eating dinner,” Rajan said, “we heard a loud voice calling us and someone knocking frantically at the school door. It was Priyanka. She was crying and asked us to help her.”
“I don’t want to marry,” she told us. “I just want to study and become a nurse one day.”
“Like many children at BSS, Priyanka has hopes and dreams of living a life away from the slums,” Rajan said.
The day after, Jagdish, the BSS headmaster took Priyanka back to her parents. The next day, Rajan’s husband Sukhdev visited members of her village and some of the older boys who attended BSS and asked them all to support Priyanka in her efforts to study and remain at BSS.
“Things have settled down somewhat,” Rajan said. “Next year our new female dormitory will be built and we will offer Priyanka a place so she can grow strong, study and live with less turmoil in her life. She loves going to school at BSS very much and she shares all her problems with us. Her father drinks too much and her mother has health issues and difficulty working. Fortunately, Priyanka’s mother is able to earn enough to feed her children at least one meal a day.”
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